Debut novelist Michael Boccacino invites readers into the world beyond the realm of the living in Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling, a Victorian gothic tale of the strange and supernatural. But all who enter this house must beware—for there is a price to pay for visitors who wish to save those they love. The story of a British governess and her young charges seduced by the otherworldly enticements of a mysterious mansion in the forest following the inexplicable death of the former nanny, this Tim Burton-like tale of dark fantasy is a bewitching treat for fans of horror and paranormal fiction, as well as readers who love creepy gothic tales and mysterious shadowy English manor houses. Not since Suzanna Clarke introduced Jonathan Strange to Mr. Norrell, and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline crawled through a secret door into a twisted and sinister mirror world, has there been a journey as wondrously fantastic and terrifying as Charlotte Markham’s adventures in the House of Darkling.
Debut author Boccacino bowls the reader over with his note-perfect rendition of a spooky Victorian atmosphere. Widower Henry Darrow employs governess Charlotte Markham, a young widow, to tutor his sons, James and Paul. Following a sinister murder in the village and housekeeper Mrs. Norman's lurid forebodings, Paul dreams of his mother in parallel to Charlotte's own eerie dreams of the dead, including her dead mother. Paul's vision leads to a reunion and to an implied struggle between the two women for control of the children. Many of the characters also encounter other beings, some with malevolent designs that echo past terrors from Charlotte's life. The complex reverberations of mirror images, dramatic parallels among those who are "bound by our grief," and vicarly exhortations on the nature of the supernatural lead Charlotte to acknowledge her attraction to Darrow and realize her role as a bridge between two worlds a role that necessitates a terrible final choice. Boccacino's deft handling of this delicately supernatural period piece makes it a sterling genre selection.
I read A LOT. Any genre will do. The choices are cheap, convenient, and almost endless in this digital download era. I never write reviews though because who cares what I think? But since there are no written reviews yet, I thought I'd put my two cents in for anyone considering spending $1.99 on this book. I haven't even finished it yet, but I would recommend it even after the first chapter. ANYONE can get published these days, so it's rare to find a writer with a fresh voice, clever style, and a story that you haven't already read in original and knock-off form. But with Charlotte Markham, I can honestly say I don't know how it will end. Any predictions I've made so far have been wrong. Whether you are someone who spends $20 on a vampire book or digs into James Joyce for free, this book belongs on your shelf!